1.29.2010

Barbacoa


mexico city, mexico

There seems to be an unwritten law that going on honeymoons is like joining the Masons... secret and mysterious, and the fewer questions asked the less embarrassing for everybody. ~Martha Byrd Porter, Straight Down a Crooked Lane

This time last year, András I were on a plane bound for Mexico City, en route to our honeymoon. When we arrived, we checked in here, in a plain but perfect room flooded in light with an old footed tub in the middle.

The next day, our friend Nick had arranged for his cousins {and now our friends} Mary and Ro to take us for a day of authentic eating, starting with barbacoa at 8 o'clock am Sunday morning. From what I had read, barbacoa was something like barbecue, though that description hardly does the trick. Mary and Ro took us on a drive 30 minutes to the far side of the city {which side I couldn’t tell you} through unkept residential roads and alleys far from chic Condessa. Soon we were standing before the scene above ordering steamed, simmered hunks of meat lifted from a maguey leaf-lined pit, chopped on a smoothed old wood stump, weighed and served by the pound.

We hadn’t told them András is a vegetarian, though it didn’t matter. Barbarcoa is served with dozens of hot corn tortillas made by the magic of young hands that move like a dance over hot cast iron barrels, releasing the steamy golden disks into stacks.  Our appetite for masa awakened ravenous gratitude for their craft. We returned to their barrels over and over to watch and to refill our emptied basket, washing it all down with salsa, cerveza and hot-sweetened coffee. 





The moment was as unfortgetable as the meal, an ancient tradition seeped in the colors of Diego Rivera’s Mexico, the steam that soaked the air with stewed meat and the painterly quality of it all that appeared on film through the old camera I’d taken with us, leaving us with a longing for Mexico, with all its secrets and mysteries.

7 comments:

Liz said...

Oh how I long for Mexico, too. Where else did those wonderful people take you? And I know they are wonderful, because I met them too, but on a different trip, with as much magic and mystery and delicious food that healed the heavy heart I traveled there with. But that's another story... I promise I will write it someday...

flutter said...

I just SO love your blog

Jenny said...

that is so cool! i'd love to watch this being made and HAVE some right now!

sarah said...

Thank you all for your kind comments! And Liz, Mary and Ro and the foods of their country are perfect medicine for a heavy heart. I'd love to hear the story sometime. Hang tight and I'll tell you where they took us on our last day in Mexico City before we headed south to the coast.

The Smiths in NYC said...

Love it. I love Mexico, the experiance of gathering around a meal,and all that is Mexican food. Great piece!!

Evan said...

Just reading the word Barbacoa makes my mouth water. I have enjoyed barbacoa many times, but have only once spent the time to make it myself, the results of which were shared with many friends and family. What an experience. Thanks for bringing back that memory Sarah. Now I have the itch to make barbacoa again…

Hilary said...

I love your quote, Sarah! Too cute :)

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New York City, United States
Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.